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May the Buddha be with you.   —   The Social Experience

A few months ago I threw a White Elephant party. If you're at a loss for what that means and you're picturing some strange gathering where people are spray painting a group of terrified elephants white, let me explain. A White Elephant party is essentially a game where people bring unwanted gifts they've received over the holidays for a chance to trade in their awful gift for someone else's awful gift. Sounds appealing right? Personally I'm a big fan of awful things so it's pretty much a win-win for me. I'd never been a part of a White Elephant party before let alone hosted one, but after assessing our Christmas gift haul this season there were a few items there that we just didn't know what to do with, (though thankfully I managed to convince Adam to keep the Superman pajama pants) and the White Elephant party was born.

The party was a success and the collection of unwanted gifts from the guests were amusing. Unsurprisingly the idiom 'One man's trash is another man's treasure' holds true even when it comes to awkward holiday gifts (or especially when it comes to awkward holiday gifts). A few of my favorites among the haul were candles in the shapes of rabbits and squirrels (packaged inexplicably with a variety of ceramic eggs), knee high socks with crows on them, a 'bucket of love' that included all the trashiest dollar store finds for an evening of romance, a bizarre George Bush pocket knife, and a book about dating. I contributed a very tacky mug (sorry Dad! I really hated that mug) with a tiny bottle of Jagermeister thrown in to spice up the appeal, and in return "won" two very lovely red candleholders that, while the contributor of them thought hideous, I thought were fabulous.

The evening segued into watching cheesy Asian films and drinking copious amounts of wine. I went to bed late, drunk and happy.

Crawling out of bed the following morning was no small feat. But certain cats (who will remain anonymous to protect their reputations) can be quite persuasive in the early morning hours - launching destructive attacks on books and plants to provoke a response, though the response is sometimes an undesired one usually in the form of a flying pillow. These defensive maneuvers however only elicit a more powerful counterattack which starts off with face jumping and ends with chewing on the blinds. So hangover or not, I was out of bed early to feed their horrible horrible mouths. I stood at the sink, eyes blurry without contacts or glasses, hands soapy and wet scrubbing clean cat food bowls, and that's when I noticed him.

Laying on his back, huge belly in the air, face twisted into a crazy hilarious laugh, a Buddha had taken up residence on my kitchen windowsill.

Where had this Buddha come from? I'd never seen him before in my life and suddenly there he was, making me smile with his fatness and strange looking teeth. I asked Adam and he too had never seen him before. Surely one of our guests from the previous night's party had left him for us but why? And who? There had been at least fifteen people in our house for the party, I suppose it could have been any one of them. So I sent an email out to all of our guests asking who among them had gifted us with this small Buddha statue, and not one of them fessed up.

I suppose that someone had received him as a gift and he didn't fit their decor. Every one of our guests had been to our place before, surely they took notice of my unusual decorating style and thought this little guy would fit right in. It's true that he's not the only Buddha among my things. For no particular reason I have a Buddha tealight holder, a Buddha toothbrush holder, and another but very different small Buddha statue. I don't collect them by any means and surrounded by the hundreds of other things in this apartment they do anything but stand out.

But why didn't the giver of this Buddha hand him over in person? Perhaps they didn't want it to be perceived as a 'gift', after all, it was a White Elephant party, a party all about unwanted things. But despite knowing that it must have come from someone, its silent and unceremonious arrival gave me pause. It's like finding a crucifix nailed to your wall one day, part of you thinks it arrived on its own.

Posted 3.5.2011 7:12:17 PM

Dad wrote:
"The Mug".....we thought you might not like the mug given the correlation between the saying on it and the actual event, however, it did appeal to me as a perfect gift. Sorry you didn't share in our humorous view of it.
Posted 3/6/2011 8:07:30 AM
rose wrote:
Love the unexpected treasure! I love it when certain items speak out as if calling your name and saying, "I belong to you (or so-and-so)". Sounds like a fun party!
Posted 3/7/2011 10:20:15 AM - rose's website
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You old hag.
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